Late 20th-Century Labor History Videos

Labor Beat. Web, Email,
37 S. Ashland Blvd., Chicago IL 60607. (312) 226-3330; Fax (773) 561-0908

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Mileposts, Turning Points

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The Teamsters: Whose Union Is It?

In 2001 Ron Carey was found innocent of the charge that he knew about the money scam in the ’96 Teamsters election. This video, made in 1998, pointed out then that Carey was removed without any right to a trial. The video centers on the big UPS strike, Carey ’s removal, and the Hoekstra hearings in Congress. It includes interviews with Pete Camarata (TDU activist), Ken Paff (TDU), and others. Scenes from mass outdoor rallies with Carey and Sweeney. With narration. Length: 23 minutes. Order: LB301

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Marchin' in the Streets: Action!Motown ’97

The giant 100,000-strong march and day of action in Detroit in support of the locked-out newspaper workers. Action footage, interviews, and narration provide additional background. Protests at the Sterling Heights police department and at the home of Detroit News CEO Frank Vega. Televised on Chicago PBS affiliate WTTW. Shows the potential for mass labor action in our time. Order: LB274

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Labor Party Convention '96 - History in the Making

We have the only video about the historic 1996 founding convention of the Labor Party in Cleveland. Presents key debates on whether to run candidates now, and other convention dynamics. Also interviews, and 1,500 conventioneers ’ protest at Cleveland City Hall in response to Democrat Mayor White ’s attacks on city workers. It has a long way to go to be a real party, but the founding convention was an important historic moment for the U.S. labor movement. Order: LB248


SEIU-The Search for the Future

Compresses highlights and the central issues of the 1996 SEIU Convention, showing transitions in progess as part of political shifts after Sweeney ’s election as AFL-CIO President. A microcosm of the labor movement in 1996. Focuses on the fight for reform and democratizing SEIU, and on health care battles. The video delves into New York’s Gus Bivona controversy and Chicago’s SEIU 25 rank- and-file upsurge. Scenes from a preconvention debate with Robert Wages of Labor Party Advocates. 27 minutes. Order: LB243

Decatur: The War Zone Chronicles

The study of the Illinois War Zone era is essential to grasping the change from the Kirkland era to the Sweeney era in the AFL-CIO.

This collection delves beneath surface actions and shows the underlying forces at work. Rare footage. An insider's view.


Showdown in Company Town

The historic June 25, 1994, Decatur IL rally for locked-out Staley workers and striking Caterpillar workers. The early stages of three unions uniting, and the beginnings of a political fight in City Hall. With action footage. Explores background to issues, labor militancy, police using peppermace, and the role of local government. Order: LB197


The Gathering Storm

Begins with the 7,000-strong march & street maneuvers on 10/15/94. Shows the struggle evolving toward a third party/labor party strategy. Traces the battle with City Hall over picket shacks which leads to an independent labor-community political campaign to replace the city government. Interviews with key players. Shows the political fight expanding to state politics with a 2-day march to the state capitol and a sit-in at the Governor's office and Legislature. Order: LB209


Our Class of People

The 6/24/95 labor conference with UPIU, UAW, and URW locals in Decatur, IL. The struggle impacts the leadership debate in the AFL-CIO. Seventy Decatur union members go to Bal Harbor, Florida, to try to address the AFL-CIO Executive Council. See the first ever presence of actual workers at an Executive Council meeting, telling Secretary of Labor Reich to his face that Labor- Management schemes are no good. Staley employees have come from Montreal. Mike Griffin attended a workers conference in Slovakia. Union candidates running for City Council. A War Zone labor conference on 6/25/95. Giant rally. President Dave Watts: "We're tired of dog and pony shows." Order: LB221


It Could Have Been Won

The January ’96 Madison, Wisconsin UPIU Local 1202-hosted forum to discuss the role of the United Paperworkers International Union and the AFL-CIO in the narrow vote of Decatur UPIU Local 7837 to accept A. E. Staley's contract offer. Speakers say it was a battle that was winnable, if the International and the AFL-CIO had been committed to the struggle. Included John Vellardita, Pres. UPIU 1202; Dave Watts, former Pres. UPIU 7837; Gary Lamb, Vice-Pres. UPIU 7837; Dick Schable, Staley worker; Mike Griffin, War Zone road warrior. Order: LB238

An Unequaled Selection of Labor History Videos

Labor Beat occupies a special niche in documentary. Doing a cable-tv series covering labor news since 1987, we have amassed a great storehouse of important footage and reportage. Not dependent on grants from liberal foundations or any single international, we depend on the entire working class for our funds. And we ourselves are worker/videographers. These factors enable us to get closer to labor stories and closer to the actual complex details as they emerge. Our videos are not recordings of talking heads in a studio, but aggressively 'follow the bouncing ball’. It’s not just people talking about what happened, it’s seeing it happen, the process, the actors in action. These are not high-price-spread PBS docs, whose big budgets often weigh them down in what they can say. Yet our videos are painstakenly edited under budgets close to zero, and we are proud of our craft.


  • “Labor Beat is the best known labor TV series on public access in the country”
    -- Sally Alvarez, Alliance for Community Media
  • First Prize
    - Hometown USA, National Association of Local Cable Programmers
  • Visionary Award
    -- Center for Alternative Television

U.S. Longshoremen Join in Liverpool Dockers’ Global Day of Action


All for One.

In January, 1997, dockworkers (from Tokyo to San Francisco to Stockholm) staged actions in support of locked-out Liverpool dockworkers. Liverpool cranes are occupied; the port of Stockholm is at at standstill; protests at the port of Tokyo; an interview with the president of the Tokyo Dockers Union Council; ILWU protest at the British Consulate in San Francisco as part of actions shutting down West Coast US ports. Labor videographers globally worked together on this. Order: LBGV9

Commercial Media Labor Struggles: NABET & SAG/AFTRA Strikes

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Bummer in Fantasyland

In 1997 ABC forces NABET to work without a contract. The union fights back with a strike during a golf tournament. Footage of NABET ‘merry pranksters ’ who visit ABC reporters while they ’re broadcasting live. A San Francisco ABC reporter chases around a NABET supporter who holds a sign up during his report. Interviews and more.

SAG/AFTRA Strike Major, conditionally successful strike by the acting community. Tim Kazurinsky [photo] and Studs Terkel testify at Chicago City Council hearings, seeking support for SAG/AFTRA. Also Shelby Scott, AFTRA National President, and others. Both titles on one tape. Order: LBSGN

The Haymarket Affair: History Alive


The Road to Haymarket

The Chicago 1886 Haymarket Affair. Historical stills, re-enactments, more. A core event in American labor history. The only documentary around. Order: LBGV5


Trainwreck of Ideologies

The ’98 rededication of the Haymarket monument in Chicago. Poems, speeches, music, anarchists, and a fight breaks out. Passions igniting over views of history. Order: LB317


Teamster Victory Mural

Artist Mike Alewitz making a Teamster UPS victory mural, incorporating Haymarket history themes. Integrates history and current events. Order: LB328

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  Brochure (PDF format, printable)      Longer descriptions (plain text)   

Labor Beat: Web, Email,
37 S. Ashland Blvd., Chicago IL 60607. (312) 226-3330; Fax (773) 561-0908